My favourite shot of the day, looking down on Lough Salt and Lough Greenan, over Crockmore Hill, with Muckish on the upper left. Taken on the way up Loughsalt Mountain.
I’d been saving Loughsalt Mountain in Co. Donegal for a good weather day, wanting to make sure I got the benefit of the great views I knew were to be had. I’ve seen photos from the summit, and also seen the views from a much lower position at the viewing point beside Lough Salt, which were already impressive. Eventually, in April, I couldn’t stand waiting any more, and despite a poor enough day of heavy rain and low cloud, off I went. I parked the car at the southern end of the lough just as a heavy hail shower started, turning then to heavy rain. I sat it out for half an hour or so until it relented a little, and set off in the drizzle. A short walk took me to the southern point of the lough where there stood a pump house, as the lough is used as a reservoir. Skirting the lough shore, I soon began to climb the hillside, thinking I should have continued to wait for a better day to get the full benefit of this great little 469m high hill. As often happens however, I soon got my reward for venturing out in such poor weather, and it began to dry up. I hadn’t climbed far before some blue sky made an appearance, and I was able to take the camera out for some shots overlooking the lough.
Rain stopped, as I look down on the lough and pump house.
At this early stage in the walk, I couldn’t see the summit, hidden as it was by steep slopes above, and the best of the views were over Lough Salt. With increased height however, I also began to get views of the Derryveagh Mountains, particularly the chain from Muckish to Errigal, and the coastline to the north.
Muckish Mountain starting to appear over the rise at the far side of the lough.
A strange grassy, almost lawn-like area amidst the heather, and a first glimpse of the north Donegal coast.
You can see the road below hugging the loughshore, which makes for a great scenic drive looking across to Loughsalt Mountain.
Some great colour in the heather.
Looking northwards along the length of the lough.
Most of the bulk of the mountain ahead, falling steeply into the lough.
As I continued northeast towards the summit, I was forced to move away from the steep drops down to the lough.
A look south and east towards less wild farmland near Letterkenny.
At this stage, close to where I took the opening photo, the weather was putting on a breathtaking show for me, with heavy hail and rain showers passing on all sides, dramatic stormy and cloudy skies, with sunshine breaking through in patches. And all the while, it seemed to somehow leave me dry!
Surely one the best views in Ireland!
Cresting one the many minor summits which I had encountered, I now saw another one ahead with a cairn on top, and wondered if that was the top. As I moved up towards the cairn, more amazing views opened up to Inishowen, as rainstorms moved across the sea towards it.
A cairn on the rise ahead.
A rainstorm moving towards the Urris Hills in Inishowen on the right hand side of the horizon.
As I reached the cairn, it became apparent that the summit was a little further yet, but I could now see it marked by a trig pillar on the next rise.
The summit, a little beyond the cairn, with the trig pillar just visible on top.
More views to the north and east were now being opened up as I neared the top.
Rapidly changing light and stormy skies. I was now glad that I hadn’t waited for a sunny, blue-sky day to walk this hill.
The merest sprinkling of snow remaining from earlier winter weather.
I arrived at the top with its trig pillar, and I stood taking in the 360 degree views, as storms and sunshine alternated all around.
It had been my plan to descend via the wonderfully bumpy, rocky ground to the north west, and then take the road alongside the far shore of the lough back to the car. But, it now became apparent that the fantastic luck I’d had in being by-passed by all the storms, was about to change. Black clouds were moving in overhead, and I was soon engulfed in driving hail and very dark conditions. I decided to take the more direct route that I had followed on the way up, back to the car. The weather meant the camera was packed away for most of the return leg, but I did manage a few more shots in the couple of dry intervals as I descended.
Not a huge walk, and in no time, I was back at the pump house, with the car parked a little futher along the road.
The pump house at the bottom.
A little colour on this weathered door.
A curious on-looker as I stepped into the welcome warmth and dryness of the car.
Loughsalt Mountain is not a big hill, and is therefore easy to walk, but offers views way beyond what might be exptected for its height. It is a great platform from which to view the higher mountains of Muckish and Errigal, Inishowen, and a huge stretch of the north Donegal coast, as well as the immediate, picturesque loughs below. Definitely worth putting on your list.